Though Harry Potter’s story ended with Voldemort, the universe of wizards, magic, and Hogwarts has proven to have more stories to tell. In November 2016, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them premiered, telling now the story of Newt Scamander, a creature-lover who adventured many years before Harry was even born.
For those new to the tale, the movie is set in 1926, decades before the events of Harry Potter. Viewers follow protagonist Newt Scamander, a kind Hufflepuff who has a very unique profession: magizoologist. He finds and cares for many exotic magical creatures. In his journeys, he heads to America and finds even more trouble with creatures and magic than his timid personality would ever anticipate.
In the film’s sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Scamander’s adventures continue and begin to come a little closer to home. This time, he’s working with fan favorite great wizard, Albus Dumbledore. After all, Dumbledore does have a complicated relationship with Grindelwald, the great criminal of the film.
The final trailer for the film premiered recently, exposing more and more of the impending plot and conflicts. The film is schedule to be released this November.
In the trailer, many new elements of the film were revealed. An old flame of Newt’s, Leta LeStrange, appeared, played by Zoe Kravitz. So did her fiance, Newt’s older brother, Theseus. The most disconcerting plot point revealed, however, is a conversation between Newt and Dumbledore where it seems Dumbledore is asking the young man to face Grindelwald for him. For fans who know Scamander’s personality well, it seems a very ludicrous request.
There were some heavily expected reveals in the trailer, as well. These include hints to Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s youthful romance, Newt regrouping with his friends from the last film, including his muggle mate Jacob Kowalski, and, of course, Grindelwald being downright evil the stronger he gets.
Some reveals were a surprise, though. For example, the fact kind-hearted Newt could once, or still, love a member of the very shady pureblood LeStrange family. However, Leta does very pointedly tell him, “There never was a monster you couldn’t love”, a sad and damning statement about his feelings and her moral disposition. Then, of course, Dumbledore expecting kind-hearted, reluctant hero Newt to attack Grindelwald. It seems like the strangest choice, even though Scamander is heroic and good.
The final surprising reveal, the one that has left fans in a tizzy, is the appearance of Nagini. However, she’s a bit more complicated now. In the trailer, Voldemort’s trusty snake now can be seen as a transformative woman working in a freak show. Makes their relationship a little stranger when you find out she’s not just a snake, but a woman.
Expectations for the film are decidedly mixed. The magical effects are, per usual, fantastical and dazzling. However, the lopsided tone and dual plots of the last film muddled the overall story and people were uncertain about how they liked a spin-off tale. Newt Scamander is a marvelous, unique protagonist, as he’s not a typical hero. He’s just a kind man trying to do the right thing. His group of friends are fun and enjoyable. However, Grindelwald complicates things, plot-wise and in how good the film was.
And, of course, Depp as Grindelwald is a poor choice. Not only does Depp’s version of Grindelwald look way too old and strange, but Depp is in a heap of social trouble for his treatment of his ex-wife and other allegations of bad behavior. Next to Jude Law’s Dumbledore, Grindelwald look decrepit and discomforting. And not in a good, villainous way. His design and casting choice was fairly poor. Hopefully Depp can at least pull together a serious acting job and do the character some justice.
Overall, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald looks gorgeous, fascinating, and at least the group will be fun. Beyond that, though, it may suffer from similar plot strangeness and disjointed tones that the last one did. And who knows how Credence, Nagini, and Grindelwald will affect the overall tale. Hopefully it’s only for the best, not worst.
Fans will just have to wait until November and then make decisions for themselves. Personally, I wish the film the best of luck. We all could use a little bit of movie magic.